Saving Mexico (?)

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The February 2014 cover of TIME Magazine portrayed Enrique Pena Nieto, President of Mexico, and his sweeping reforms as the key points to transform and improve the country after four years of violence. Alright, we sort of mocked him, we made fun of him, we were like “Yeah right” about it, but we never expected that the country could get this worse, and I mean, just stop watching “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo*” and google Mexico, and tell me what the top results are.

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But this situation didn´t just “happen”, violence didn´t just appear out of the cover of a magazine, nor when the Energy Reform was approved, violence was there, nurtured by authorities, society, private sector and weak law enforcement institutions.

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Just to put into context, from 2006 to 2012, during Felipe Calderon´s administration, a war on drugs was held, and by many, this war followed a wrong and violent strategy. By targeting and weakening rival drug cartels and criminal organizations, Calderon found himself, with the rest of the country, inside a beehive, full of violent groups, which were upset, aggressive, fearless and with no loyalty towards any authority, political party or another criminal group.

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His strategy was questioned by human rights NGOs, the opposition parties, the private sector (internationally and nationally), civil organizations and the international community. The fact that it seemed that he was just going against the drug cartels and criminal groups opposed to “El Chapo” Gúzman, made his efforts fall into suspicion and questioned by everyone. At the end of his administration, with over 80,000 deaths, millions spent on security, and urban centres 77874_600dismembered, socially and economically, the people just had enough. Many of us, many from the north of the country, understood that things would never be the same.

Urban centres in the north and centre of the country were reshaped by this war on drugs.

Entire families crossed the border into the US, and I mean medium-high to high income families. This left these regions without a strong national private investment, and a lack of entrepreneurial force to boost local economies around the country.

My point is, the violence that we are currently seeing in many parts of Mexico (not only the southern state of Guerrero) is a result of an aggressive security policy coming from the past administration and the absence of a real national security initiative from Pena´s team.

It seems that the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI), doesn´t know how to manage the criminal organizations, finds out of line those who criticize the way they react toward violent events, and seems more interested on not scaring away the foreign investment the Structural Reforms were designed to attract.

In conclusion, maybe it was way too soon for TIME Magazine to make the assumption that Enrique Pena Nieto (a person that during his administration as governor of the Estado de Mexico, was responsible of the human rights violations against civilians in the municipality of Atenco) was the factor that will save Mexico.

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Maybe we just need to wait and see.

Ps: *Uhh, this just in, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo got cancelled!

Thunderstruck

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That´s right my friends, this is one of my favourite songs ever, if not the most favourite one. Just listening to the way it begins, the drums, the strings and … the crowd man, the freaking crowd, give me the shivers dude…

“I was caught in the middle of a lighting attack…”

This song is pure adrenaline, emotions, grunts, rhythm and a claim for facing the unknown, the unexpected, the danger, the challenges.

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I mean, mate, just look at their outfits, their moves, and that energy they are eager to share with the crowd… the crowd man, the freaking crowd.

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AC/DC is the band, and you´ve been… Thunderstruck.

Ps. Once I said that if I ever get elected president of Mexico, my entrance to the Chamber of Representatives will be with this song playing on the background. And yes, I will be high fiving everyone on my way to the podium.

Like this mother***ker

Just like this mother***ker

What´s New: Ferguson, Missouri; and Kent Brantly

It is Monday and among the many things that happened last week there were some news more interesting than others, or more viral, however some things happened less known to the public but extremely relevant to all of us.

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Racial tension

Two weeks ago, in Ferguson, Missouri, a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black young man, it has been the sixth consecutive day without any public protest or the presence of heavy armed forces. The murder of Michael Brown (18 years old) by (apparently) police officer Darren Wilson, has brought public opinion to question the use of plenty of police force to intimidate the protesters.

Analysts, media and key opinion leaders suggested that the police´s response was unusual and unnecessary, and many questioned the fact that Ferguson, Missouri looked more like a scene you´d see in Afghanistan or Iraq, because, let´s face it, the cops did look like freaking soldiers. According to this article by Reuters on the matter, “President Barack Obama has ordered a review of the distribution of military hardware to state and local police, a senior administration official said on Saturday”.

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What happened in Ferguson reminded the national and international community that the United States still has a lot of issues in terms of racial discrimination and, now, the implementation of a new legislation by the local police to re use military equipment given by the government to strengthen their local forces: “How Ferguson could be America’s future

An Update on the Ebola Virus in Murica

Remember that the US received a couple patients diagnosed with the Ebola virus, the were flown from Africa in order to be treated and cured in American soil. Well, Dr. Kent Brantly, one of these two infected, was finally released from the hospital where he was receiving treatment, and he seems OK. According to the doctors who treated him (and Nancy Writebol, the other American infected by Ebola) he represents no public health threat.

Well, and the lad made it

Well, and the lad made it

However, according to the World Health Organization, at least 1,350 people have died in Africa since the Ebola outbreak in March. And, according to their latest research, the Ebola virus could live up to 3 months in vaginal fluid and semen.

In other news

The viral campaign: the Ice Bucket Challenge  is known to create awareness and get donations from the general public for research on ASL. It was a huge success, at least now people around the world, no just within the US, know what Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is, often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease. If you want to know more about the disease and how to donate to fight it, go to the ALS Association website and find out.

Enjoy watching Charlie Sheen doing it the right way:

 

My Favourite Salsa

When I was learning how to cook, back in 2004, I was in France as a Mexican Exchange student, and after four months I started  craving some Mexican food. My cooking knowledge wasn´t great but I knew how to mix some ingredients and just went for it.

Because, you  know, even after a couple of hours away from the country Mexicans start to crave salsa and tamales

Because, you know, even after a couple of hours away from the country Mexicans start to crave salsa and tamales

So I bought fresh tomatoes, onions and some “Indian” Chilies, you know, France. I came back to the dorms and started cooking, suddenly I realized I´ve made something that slightly resembled Mexican food, I was so excited I literally ran down the hall with a spoon full of that salsa just to give everybody a wee try. I know, not really that hygienic, but I was thrilled I´ve made something edible.

My first salsa is super easy to make, and it will not disappoint:

 

Ingredients:choppedonions

  • 1 big ass onion
  • 3 fresh tomatoes
  • 3 chilies (serranos, or Indian chilies will do)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 spoons of canola oil

 

First, heat a medium size pot, pour the oil, and place inside the onion, sliced, let it cook. You will notice that the onion will sizzle and then start to caramelize, don´t add any salt yet. Then put in the chopped chilies and chopped garlic, let them integrate with the onions, open your windows if you are not used to this type of cooking, as the smell will make you cough and sneeze, true story.

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When you notice that everything is well cooked, add the tomatoes, diced; the juices of the tomatoes will put all the flavours together. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste, and half a cup of water. Let it simmer, the salsa isn´t supposed to be runny, you want it thick and with a curry-ish like texture.

I used to put this salsa on nachos or cous-cous, goes amazing with grilled fish and pork, aye, lots of pork.

Ps.  Non related to this culinary post, I do highly recommend this recent article posted on The Economist, titled: “The Feds Ride Out”, which talks about the Mexican government launching this new police force rather than improving the current crime-fighting forces. As said by some analysts, president Enrique Pena Nieto, seems to lack a national security strategy and keeps on denial that Mexico is under control of criminal forces.

http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21613312-mexico-gets-new-police-force-it-needs-new-policing-strategy-feds-ride-out

Credit to: Peter Schrank

 

What´s New: Ebola, Love at first sight, and Bear rescue

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I thought it would be nice to have a weekly post of “What the heck is happening around the world today”, or like twitter calls it “What´s trending”. Usually I find this sort of news on my friends´timeline in Twitter and Facebook (No, no matter how much you insist mate, no one uses Google Plus, knock it off), some of the posts are amusing, other interesting and other just ridiculous.

"Oh no, Miley, don´t do it!"

“Oh no, Miley, don´t do it!”

 

 

Today I found these jewels trending the heck up of our social media outlets

 

 

 

 

The Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and Liberia, spreading to Guinea, at least three cases reported in Nigeria, and three people with the virus being treated in the US. This is something to think about as we´ve been bombed with apocalyptic movies throughout the last 10 years, from virus, to zombies, to world´s destruction by aliens, earthquakes or solar flames. This virus went from 800 people sick last week to over 1500 reported on Wednesday and the numbers keep rising.

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As reported by Reuters, and now being a well known fact, the “Symptoms initially include muscle pains and joint aches, then worsen to vomiting, diarrhea and internal and external bleeding in the final stages.” So, pretty much the way you feel after eating real Mexican Food for the first time.

The conflict in the Middle-East, particularly the recent and ongoing attacks of Israel over the Palestinian settlements has brought some new actors into the international arena. Israel, perceived as being backed up by the United States and the European Community, continues to discourage opinions that question its military action on the region. It has helped that the media has shown lack of empathy for Israel´s military actions, and China as well as Brazil seize the option of becoming heavier actors in the topic.

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The chronology of a desperate social media campaign launched by an Irish lad in order to find a Canadian girl he met on a plane from Dublin to Dubai. As the Time article says, this could be the creepiest or most romantic story lurking on the web at the moment. Well, apparently they are in communication now so, let see how it develops… or not.

Aye, this happened

Aye, this happened

Uh uh… did you guys watch this video of a bear rescuing a crow that fell into a pond? It was everywhere at the beginning of the week. Seems that people are more interested in finding hope in animal actions than in human beings.

Duc In Altum

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Duc in Altum, it is Latin for “Into the deep ocean”, or something like that, my Latin is sort of rusty at the moment, but trust me on this one. It was taught to me during junior high and high school, almost 20 years ago (damn) by the Jesuits. My professors and academic community encouraged us to always go forward, looking for new challenges and frontiers, for adventures and knowledge, to open or wings and fly away…

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How do you like that for the opening paragraph of this post? Pretty epic, right?

 

 

Anyway, so later on, these thoughts and the urge for adventure, made me travel around the world and to visit many places, from France, Canada, Norway, Argentina, and my second home, New Zealand. Recently I got the chance to read a great article written by Kellie Donnelly, titled “The Hardest Part Of Traveling No One Talks About”. In this entry she describes perfectly the way I´ve felt after my trips abroad, specially the last one, coming back from New Zealand to Mexico after three years away.

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Indeed, traveling changes you; it transforms you into a different person and makes you an addict for just flying away. Realizing that coming back home is an obligation that you enjoy, that your friends are grownups now, with kids and responsibilities, with a retirement fund and a decent relationship gut. You find your parents and relatives a little older now, their hairs are greyer and their eyes look nostalgically into the distance. They listen to you blathering about your adventures and sincerely enjoy your stories, as you enjoyed their bed time tales when you were a kid.

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Kellie describes perfectly that “travel bug” that annoyed me at the beginning of my return. Now it is clearer, it isn´t that you don´t like your home country anymore, it is much more; the need to get to know the world, as an addiction that is only beneficial for you, and your free soul.

As she concluded:

“This is the hardest part about traveling, and it’s the very reason why we all run away again.”

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Ps. All  the pictures in this post were taken by myself, pretty neat, huh?

#100HappyDays Conclusion

What have this experiment taught me? Let me recap on how I learnt something amazing about life, the universe and everything.

At the beginning I didn´t know what to expect from this, I mean, clearly I had to register and post those moments that made my day amazing, happy, significant or special. This became a conscious habit, sometimes frustrating when a day was about to end and I had to lurk into my head and find that special moment. At first it was annoying and irritating, as I felt obliged to do it, kind of forced, you know?

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Later on I started looking for that happy moment among others that I´ve experienced throughout the day, that happened around day 40 or 50. It became easier to find that wee happy place that I will post on my Instagram account. Honestly, I thought that all my happy moments will be about food, because, well, food is awesome. Then, almost at the last third of the experiment I realized that happiness was all around, you don´t need to wait for it to happen, or to consciously look for it, nor force it, it became a state of mind.

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Even during some bad days I didn´t struggle to find whatever made that day special, it could have been a friend, a phone call, a memory or a thought, happiness and goodness were all around, all the time. Finally, I started to let things flow, to let life affect me positively, to let others influence me with their optimism, this way happy thoughts and good memories arose more easily by the end of the experiment, I had no trouble to modify my state of mind in a positive way.

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Clearly, by the end of #100HappyDays I realized that happiness lies within us, it is our own decision to be happy or not. On my first post I mentioned some of the benefits, but one of the results they don´t tell you is that you become kinder, and not afraid of showing affection to your loved ones. I´m proud to say that I´m part of the 29% who has completed this challenge, because it seems like a challenge at the beginning.

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My happy days were filled with awesome things, from a good dinner or a wee chat with an old friend, from attending an amazing musical with that special someone to meeting up with your siblings, from having breakfast with your auntie to spending time with the nephew, or just enjoying a beautiful morning view of Mexico City . Finally it became just a simple task to reverse a sad state of mind by just remembering about the great things this Mexican has experienced throughout his life. #100HappyDays turned out to be surprisingly inspiring and revealing, something worth sharing with you all.

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Don´t mind if I insist, but you ought to give this a try (it´s not a cult, don´t worry), in the end, this #100HappyDays showed me that I´m capable of positively modifying my day by focusing on the great things in life, and to be grateful and to feel blessed of the life I was given.

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Ps. She is my mum, up there, in the last picture of this post. Sometimes, when things don´t seem right I look at this picture, which reminds me that there´s always someone there to encourage me to get back on the saddle and conquer my fears.